The World is Changing. Don’t Get Left Behind.
Posted by Trevor on 17 January 2013 | 1 Comment
Every week I read articles that confirm the simple map of controlling mentality, taking quiet time and balancing the intuitive and warrior energy with Intentions to transform both people and businesses. Critics who don’t know the first thing about me accuse me of being a new ager, but I don’t even know what that means. I’m a businessman, and nothing pleases me more than to see the map unfold in the business world.
This winter, the world-famous department store Selfridges in London is running a unique marketing campaign, and at the same time emulating the philosophy of its founder. The store is turning down the white noise on modern living through meditation, silence and an awareness of “loud branding.” They exhort shoppers to begin by taking a 10-minute time-out at one of the 11 pods around the store. On the ground floor is the Quiet Shop, where de-branded versions of recognizable products, exactly the same as the original, but without the logo for some visual peace and quiet can be purchased. The Silence Room, an insulated sanctuary in the store’s basement, has you leave your shoes and electronics at the door, and provides a soundproof, low-light escape from the bedlam that is shopping.
As someone who never goes to a mall and has not stepped inside a department store for a decade, these innovations are still not enough to entice me, but I applaud their effort.
Of course, this is just a marketing gimmick, albeit an original one. Contrary to popular opinion, marketing does not set trends. Marketing responds to trends, and is a reflection of changing times. The essence of marketing is to identify customer needs and respond in a way that satisfies them. Here some bright spark has identified a trend among people to desire escaping the madness of our noisy, technological age. Kudos to him or her for responding to it. The key point, however, is the trend for taking quiet time.
As I try to point out, all that noise and technology that invades our world does not improve our brain function. Our neurons have to screech to a crawl to allow us to coordinate our muscles and senses to interpret and process it all. Left undistracted our 100 billion neurons work at close to the speed of light, but when in our modern life are our brains allowed to work undistracted? Our brain craves some silence so it can better serve us, and that is the importance of taking quiet time, and why people are expressing a growing need for it. Personally, I would not get on a bus, negotiate a busy city high street, and jostle with shoppers just to find a ten-minute sanctuary of stillness in a store. I would simply get up 20 minutes earlier and sit on a chair in a quiet spot of the house.
The story of Selfridge’s founder is currently a TV series in the UK. It is a bit of a soap opera and starts when Mr. Selfridge travels to London on vacation. A successful retailer in Chicago, he is appalled at the quality of merchandising and service on offer in London (not much has changed there I am afraid). He sets about changing that by investing $600,000 ($14 million in today’s money) in a department store.
The show makes no attempt to define Mr. Selfridge other than as a brash American retailer, but his life story was also a rags to riches one; well, actually rags to riches to rags. His storekeeper father failed to return to the family after the American Civil War, and soon after his two brothers died. Brought up by his mother, he started work at 14 and worked his way up the commercial ladder. He made a fortune, but after his wife died of influenza in 1918, his life unraveled.
It is fitting that the store’s marketing people have picked up on the positive legacy he left. The Silence Room is a reincarnation of a similar space installed by Mr. Selfridge in 1909. A man credited with creating famous catchphrases such as “Only_____ shopping days to Christmas,” “The customer is always right,” and “Give the lady what she wants,” he also proclaimed in his fourth floor sanctuary that “Silence is golden.”